Officer wounds self during pursuit near San Diego marathon
SAN DIEGO — A San Diego officer accidentally shot himself in the leg Sunday while pursuing a hit-and-run suspect who pointed a weapon at police and was eventually arrested on the roof of a parking structure near the finish line of an annual marathon, authorities said.
Officers fired at the woman but missed after she brandished the weapon at the parking facility in the city’s downtown at the edge of a plaza shared by City Hall, police Chief David Nisleit told reporters.
The suspect threw the weapon from the top of the structure to the street below before being taken into custody, Nisleit said. It was unclear what type of weapon it was, but investigators were looking into whether it was a pellet gun that resembles the real thing, the chief said.
Detectives were investigating whether the woman was connected to a kidnapping in nearby Chula Vista, he said. In that incident a man called police to report that he was tied up inside a home but managed to escape.
Nisleit didn’t have details on the wounded officer’s condition or the circumstances of the accidental shooting. It wasn’t clear how many shots the officers fired at the woman, who did not shoot. The suspect wasn’t immediately identified.
In announcing the woman’s arrest, police said the scene was secure and there was no threat to the area near the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, which brought thousands of people downtown along with a heavy police presence.
Runner Fabian Tabares, 49, finished the race for the second year in a row and then heard the news that an armed suspect was arrested only two blocks from the route.
“I’m surprised to hear that but since I’m slow, luckily I was not affected,” he said, adding that it was a well-organized event and felt safe. “I’ll be back next year to do it again.”
The incident began shortly before 11 a.m. as a call about a misdemeanor hit and run, officials said. A number of streets were closed as police responded to the parking structure.
The race was halted for about 10 minutes and rerouted, marathon officials said.
Marathoner Beth Grew, 40, of Yuma, Arizona, said she had no idea the race was delayed. “Oh my God. That’s so scary,” she said after finishing and learning about the shooting.
Leilani Sandan and her 7-year-old son were playing music from “Les Miserables” on their way to see the musical at the San Diego Civic Theater when they were suddenly passed by more than a dozen police cars, sirens blaring. The shooting had just occurred in the parking garage they were headed to next to the theater.
“It was crazy,” Sandan said as she stood with hundreds of other ticketholders behind police tape. “It was like police, police, police, siren, siren, siren.”
She said she was glad to hear the marathon runners were OK. They were later escorted into the theater with the others, who shuffled past the yellow police tape.
Sara Wehr, 31, also was headed to the show with her family.
“It is a little nerve wracking that this just happened not long ago,” said Wehr as she lined up for roll call next to the flashing police cars. “We’re safe, right?”
The 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) marathon course weaves its way through the city and also includes a half-marathon and a 5K run. More than 25,000 runners were expected to participate.